Milan went top of Serie A on Saturday with a 2-1 win at Spezia in which Daniel Maldini followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps by scoring his first goal for the club on his full Serie A debut.
Stefano Pioli’s side are a point ahead of Napoli and three ahead of city rivals Inter Milan, who can take top spot with a win over Atalanta at the San Siro later on Saturday, thanks to the victory over battling Spezia which came thanks to Brahim Diaz’s close-range strike with four minutes remaining.
Over 12 years since his father and club legend Paolo last played for the seven-time European champions, Maldini junior headed Milan into the lead at Spezia two minutes after half-time.
Former Italy defender Paolo, who won almost every honour in the game during his 25 years as a Milan player and is now the club’s technical director, celebrated in the stands as his son was surrounded by teammates following the powerful header from Pierre Kalulu’s cross.
“The most important thing about Daniel is that he’s talented. He’s got technical ability, he can see the play, he’s calm,” said Pioli to DAZN.
“We wanted him to attack the area and he did that, scoring a good goal, I think he can only grow and that he’s got the quality to be a player that gives us some joy in the future.”
Diaz decisive again
Maldini’s fairytale debut looked to have been spoiled in the 80th minute when Daniele Verde’s shot took a wicked deflection off Sandro Tonali and left Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan with no chance.
However Spaniard Diaz was decisive again after scoring the crucial first goal against Venezia midweek, collecting Alexis Saelemaekers’ pull back and pushing home his fourth goal in all competitions this season.
Defeat was harsh on Spezia, who could also have scored on the hour mark when Giulio Maggiore somehow shot over from inches out and pushed Milan all the way.
Thiago Motta’s side deserved more than zero points from positive performances in their last two matches against Juventus and Milan.
“It’s always a difficult match here, they play good football. They played well but we fought together… I’m happy for everyone because it’s difficult to win here,” said Diaz to DAZN.
The 19-year-old Maldini’s grandfather Cesare Maldini, also a defender, won four league titles and the 1963 European Cup for the Rossoneri, scoring three times for the club.
Paolo Maldini played more than 900 times for Milan, scoring 33 times and winning seven league titles and five European Cups/Champions Leagues.
Daniel made his senior Milan debut as a late substitute during a 1-1 draw with Verona in February last year, and has played in a clutch of matches from the bench since.
He made his first Milan start in their Europa League qualifying match against Rio Ave the following October and has made three short appearances as a substitute this season, including seven minutes towards the end of a 3-2 defeat at Liverpool earlier this month.